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The Best of the Best Music of 2012

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17 Bands to See at SXSW, or Here, Now, on YouTube

South by Southwest is one of the year's biggest music events, and for those of you lucky ("lucky"?) enough to be in Austin this week, here are a few acts you won't want to miss, in alphabetical order. (Non-attendees can enjoy from the safety of their computers.) READ MORE

Who Is Nina Sky?

Even though it’s been eight years, Nina Sky's “Move Ya Body” is still a jam. With its dancehall rhythms and island vibes, it's a classic I guarantee will be on every summer-jams mix I ever make. It’s what put my favorite Queens identical-twin duo — a.k.a. Nicole and Natalie Albino — on the map, and it remains their most recognizable song today. READ MORE

Today in New Madonna and M.I.A. Music Videos

Not only is Madonna's "Give Me All Your Luvin'" a drab song, the video is essentially saying "now you don't have to watch the Super Bowl." And if you plan to tune in for the halftime show to maybe catch a glimpse of the ghosts of Madonnas past, they're here, too: Madge crowdsurfs a team of football players, recalling "Material Girl," and her top-notch backup singers'/cheerleaders' lacy ensembles harken back to "Like a Virgin." It’s too bad M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj are stuck with minor supporting roles, because they only have time to drop the obligatory “Roman” and “swag," and their verses fall flat. The fact that Nicki's rocking an Adidas bustier alone calls for a verse longer than five seconds. READ MORE

First Aid Kit, "Emmylou"

Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg are First Aid Kit, a folk duo known for their oh-so-lovely harmonies and top-notch storytelling skills. After wowing everyone with their cover of Fleet Foxes’ “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” back in 2008, they went on to release an EP as well as a gorgeous full-length debut, The Big Black and the Blue. Their upcoming sophomore effort, The Lion’s Roar (out January 24), is already promising, with a captivating title track and its accompanying Narnia-evoking video. READ MORE

The Best of the Best Music of 2011

This year in music was the year of "Super Bass," The Voice, and Watch the Throne, about everyone getting worked up over Odd Future and Lana del Rey and kind of getting over Lady Gaga. Also, Foster the People. They were everywhere. Can you believe I have successfully avoided "Pumped Up Kicks" for this long? And this year, like every year, I tried to listen to All the Music, but ended up mostly listening to All the Pop Music. Here are some memorable moments. READ MORE

Selena Gomez's "Hit the Lights" Video

As the year winds down and us music nerds reflect back on 2011 to put together our best-of lists, one album that will definitely be on my list (and I’m guessing will be criminally overlooked by most other list-makers) is Selena Gomez’s When the Sun Goes Down, an impeccably produced electro-pop album that was good enough to turn this Selena G. hater into a full-fledged fan. In her latest video, for the carpe-diem-on-the-dance-floor track “Hit the Lights,” lots of young and pretty people hang out at a farm on which they're probably trespassing (kids!). They do acrobatics, smash pumpkins with baseball bats, and toss around giant balloons. And then there are even more balloons! At one point Selena parties solo in a room full of pink ones, which seems like an awesome idea until you think of how staticky your hair would get, and then you realize how unfun you are for thinking that. READ MORE

CSS, "City Grrrl" Music Video

Brazilian electro punks CSS are party professionals whose songs are all intoxicating rave-ready mash-ups of strobe lights, glow sticks, and glitter. And while they have yet to top anthems like “Music Is My Hot Hot Sex” and “Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above,” the band still knows how to have a good time. In their latest video, frontwoman and lead partier Lovefoxxx hits the streets of New York in a tale of small-town frustration/big-city liberation. (The album is called La Liberación, after all.) After a quick wardrobe adjustment and bathroom dye job, she stomps around the city like she owns it, flashing outfit changes, whipping her hair, and showing off some pretty sweet dance moves. And if her main frustration with the small-town life was that people thought pink hair and black lipstick were too crazy, then a move to any big city would do. But New York is a good choice, because there, no matter how weird you were in your hometown, you can always find someone weirder than you. READ MORE

The Wisdom of JoJo

I know it’s been a minute since the last JoJo album, but I hope y’all haven’t forgotten about her. The girl who told her cheating boyfriend to “Leave (Get Out)” (still such a jam!) is back with an intense new track and equally dramatic video. In "Disaster," JoJo laments the crumbling of a relationship and its heated conclusion. The video shows JoJo (looking a little LiLo from certain angles) in a series of arguments with her biker boyfriend, who clearly doesn't appreciate everything she's done for him. But, in true JoJo fashion, she takes the high road and moves on a stronger woman. READ MORE

A Couple Spooky Music Videos: "Devils," by The Suzan, and "Down," by Summer Camp

While you put the final touches to your sexy inflammatory email costume, you should check out a couple of holiday-appropriate videos by two bands to put on your radar. First up: The ladies of The Suzan started rocking out together a few years ago in Japan, and now that they’ve signed to Fools Gold they're taking their dance punk worldwide. In “Devils,” they, in menacing red, plow through the song’s spooky synths and terrorize their sole audience member, first luring her with a flaming cocktail, then chasing her down a fiery passage with pitchforks. So scary! There’s also something that looks like a skull glockenspiel, which should be a part of the official witch house tool kit if it isn’t already. READ MORE